Sunday, November 18, 2012

Salted Caramel Apple Bars



Carrying on with my apple dessert kick, I spied this recipe. Caramel apples in the shape of a square with a shortbread crust? I'm all over it!

Salted Caramel Apple Bars
adapted from Cooking Club of America
click to print

SAUCE
1 (14-oz.) pkg. unwrapped caramels
1 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt

CRUST
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
6 tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c unsalted butter, chilled, cut up

TOPPING
3/4 c coarsely chopped roasted salted mixed nuts
6 tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c old-fashioned oats
1 tsp ground cinnamon
6 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled, cut up

FILLING
5 c chopped peeled Braeburn or Honeycrisp apples (1/2 inch)(4 to 5 large)

Heat oven to 350°F.

Heat caramels and cream in small saucepan over low heat until caramels melt and sauce is smooth, stirring frequently.


Stir in vanilla and 3/4 teaspoon salt.


Beat all crust ingredients except butter in large bowl at low speed until combined.


At medium speed, beat in 3/4 cup butter 1 minute or until crumbs form.

I learned that I much prefer a pastry blender for the butter part.

Line 13x9-inch baking pan with heavy-duty foil; grease foil with butter. Press crust crumbs into bottom of pan. Bake 15 minutes or until edges begin to brown.


Meanwhile, combine all topping ingredients except butter in large bowl. With pastry blender or fingertips, cut in 6 tablespoons butter until coarse crumbs form.


Spoon apples into crust.


If you have to, reheat the caramel because it's about as stiff as a brick.


Drizzle the apples with caramel sauce; sprinkle with topping.


Bake 50 minutes or until apples are tender, topping is lightly browned and sauce begins to bubble. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

I waited 14 hours.

Remove from pan using foil; cut into bars. (Bars can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.)



These bars were good yet exceptionally sweet. I could do with a reduction in caramel quantity to about half or maybe omitting them entirely. Some of the bars were pretty goopy and I place blame on the caramel. The shortbread crust was fantastic, nice and crispy and crumbly. The apples soft but not mushy. Even the nuts were good!

Regarding technical issues, be sure to butter the foil very well! Caramel will want to stick to that like glue.

Cost:
  • caramels: $2.50
  • heavy whipping cream: $0.14
  • vanilla extract: $0.08
  • all-purpose flour: $0.23
  • light brown sugar: $0.39
  • unsalted butter: $0.89
  • roasted salted mixed nuts: $1.80
  • old-fashioned oats: $0.05
  • Honeycrisp apples: $2.53
Total: $8.61 or about $0.36 for each of 24 bars.

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